The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Friday, October 29, 2010

For the Love of a Car

For the Love of a Car

There's no denying of the fact that poetry doesn't come to a person on the run. It's too much to expect a poem from somebody who sprints to reach the finishing line, for that's the brief of his mentor. Yeah! The infallible mentor, the demanding mentor. I think I should describe my situation like this, very much like a sprinter sprinting and panting. If I get at least some time I can browse and make me comfortable to hit the keyboard or scribble on a paper. That's just not happening. Even I'm not sure if I can spare a couple of hours for my hair-cut on coming Sunday. There's nothing to complain, for I'm running for my bread...and poetry can wait. Oh yes, I can always scribble my old poems till they get exhausted. Here's one, at least for the time being.


More cars, less roads

The pushier ones steer ahead

for a patch of ‘free’ asphalt.

No longer a car is a car

One owns for the thrill of owning;

It’s not a dream

nor a dream come true.

It’s just a burden of loan,

The future sold out on heavy discount;

A heap of fearsome reminders

of the taxman and insurance fellow

and of the banker,

whose deadline one tends to forget.

A threat of fine

from the abominable traffic man

looms large every traffic circle…

Whom to please, and how--

The cold-looking man at parking;

Or the cunning mechanic

whose infallible words

rule the machine

down to its last screw;

Or the contemptuous scooterist

whose smooth slim bike

was in for a filthy kiss

from the wayward cab…

The mind-boggling varieties of them.

The dream at your door step”

So says

the hullabaloo of print and telly

maddening in content and sweep,

And indoctrinates a horde of them

every day from the car-less melee.

A home away from home

They try to indulge in everything

below its painted roof,

Unbecoming romance overpowers them

down the sequestered nooks.

The homeless cars

lie scattered as uncared-for urchins

competing each other for a score of square feet

in the disquiet proximity of pavement dwellers.

At the filling station

the quiet mother-like pumps

hesitate to suckling them

the life-giving drops

very much like an over-milked cow

or an anaemic mother

to her fourteenth offspring.

Their plights being at their height

why can’t they unite

and dislodge the owners

for their wanton indifference?

This is an ‘over-carred’ world!!

Maybe everything is fair in love and war

But it’s certainly not

for the love of the car.




A. N Nanda




Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chase It Hard

Recently the editor of a newly launched magazine वातायन प्रभात asked me for a write-up on the recent film of Amir Khan. I had absolutely no idea what he was going to do with my writing, whether he would publish a full-length review of the film or he was interested in collecting my views on the movie. I attempted a 1000-word article and submitted. Now I came to know that he was going to publish a topic where the views of some more people would also be culled. I don't know what kind of abridgment the editor has applied on my article. I thought I can bring it in the shape of a blog post.
आवार्ड की तलाश में
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जो सत्य है, उसका सुन्दर होना लाजिमी है। वह मंगलमय भी होता है। भाव की पूर्णता के लिए इस हकीकत को हम मुहावरे के रूप में व्यक्त करते हैं, एक साथ, यानी सत्यम-शिवम्-सुन्दरम। चाहे हम किसी कहानी या कविता की औपचारिक समीक्षा करने में जुटे हों या नाटक या सिनेमा से सम्बंधित अपनी-अपनी राय देने में, हमारा ध्येय वही सत्यम-शिवम्-सुन्दरम ही होता है। अगर कोई संगीत, सुनने वाले के सरदर्द का कारण बन जाए, भले पाश्चात्य संगीत लॉबी उसे ग्रैमी आवार्ड से ही क्यों न सम्मानित कर दे, वह शिव यानी मंगल से लैस नहीं होता है। फ़िल्म के बारे में यह नियम और भी शख्त रूप में लागू होती है। किसी गरीब को विष्ठा के गड्ढे में डुबोकर एक देश तथा उसकी निर्धनता के बारे में अफवाह फैलाकर ऑस्कार सम्मान जीता जा सकता है, पर यह न सत्य है, न सुन्दर। यह तो किसी के मंगल के लिए भी उद्दिष्ट नहीं है, बल्कि सरासर अर्धसत्य। किसी फिल्म का बाक्स ऑफिस पर हिट हो जाना क्या उसकी सफलता का एक ही मापदंड हो सकता है? खैर, प्रचार तंत्र में अपार सामर्थ्य होती है; इसके सहारे भद्दी चीज़ भी बाज़ार में उतार कर लोगों में प्रचलित की जा सकती है। इससे क्या?

अब सवाल है कि मैं क्यों इन सैद्धांतिक बातों का ज़िक्र कर रहा हूँ? क्योंकि मैंने हाल ही में आमिर खान की फिल्म 'पिपली लाइव' देखी है। इससे पहले जो फिल्म देखने का मौका मिला था, इत्तिफ़ाक़न वह भी आमिर खान अभिनीत 'थ्री इडियट्स' ही था। अब एक साथ दोनों फिल्मों के बारे में कहना चाहता हूँ। हालांकि मुझे डर है कि जिसके बारे में लोग तारीफ़ का पुल बाँधे जा रहे हैं, इसके बारे में भलाबुरा कहने पर क्या लोग मेरा उपहास नहीं उडाएँगे? फिर भी...

पहले सुन्दरता के बारे में कह दूँ। फिल्म में दर्शकों को संडास, पेशाबदान दिखाना क्या ज़रूरी था? क्या इसके बिना 'थ्री इडियट्स' नहीं बन सकती थी? कपडे पहनने के लिए होते हैं; उसे उतार कर किस प्रकार का फैशन यानी सुन्दरता लाने में यह फिल्म सफल हुई? बात और भी संगीन हो जाती है जब कपड़ों का ऐसा बेढंगा इस्तेमाल करने वाला लड़का होता है। क्या फिल्म के माध्यम से समलिंगी दुराचार को लोगों में फैलाने का मक़सद तो नहीं? बिगत दिनों में जब फिल्मों में औरतों के पहनाबों को लेकर आलोचनाएँ होती थीं, तब फिल्म वाले कहते थे कि ऐसा करना उनकी मज़बूरी है, क्योंकि यह दर्शकों की मांग है। क्या आजकल दर्शकों की मांग यह भी होने लगी कि फिल्म वाले लड़कों के पेंट पहनने नहीं पहनने को लेकर परीक्षण करें? दूसरा उदहारण शब्दों के गलत इस्तेमाल से सम्बंधित है। मैं मानता हूँ कि इससे बेजोड़ हँसी आती है, पर इसके लिए भूल सिर्फ नादानी से होनी चाहिए। पर गलतियाँ ऐसी न हों कि सुनने वालों को उसका बनावटीपन मालूम पड़ जाए। 'थ्री इडियट्स' में एक अहिन्दीभाषी को हिन्दी बोलावा कर हँसी लाने की कोशिश निहायत भद्दी है। इससे तो अहिन्दी भाषी हिन्दी बोलने में और भी डरेंगे। असल बात यह है कि हँसी लाने के लिए जो गलतियाँ की गईं, यह सब नादानी कम बल्कि बोलने वाले की चालाकी ही दर्शाता है। 'धन' को 'स्तन' पढ़ने में विशुद्ध हास्य कहाँ? जो व्यक्ति भरी सभा में इतनी सफाई से हिन्दी पढ़ लेता है, वह क्या इन लफ़्ज़ों के अर्थ को नहीं जानता है? तीसरा उदहारण और भी भयानक है। औरतों की प्रसव वेदना भगवान के द्वारा ब्रह्माण्ड की सृष्टि के साथ जोड़ कर देखा जाना चाहिए। इस ईश्वरीय प्रक्रिया की गरिमा को महत्वहीन बनाने में सुन्दरता नहीं। क्या एक असहाय पूर्णगर्भा महिला को वेक्यूम क्लीनर की सहायता से ज़बरदस्ती प्रसव करवाना भयानक नहीं? चौथा उदाहरण के तौर पर में जिसका ज़िक्र करने जा रहा हूँ, वह न केवल भद्दी है, बल्कि सरासर अशालीन है। क्या दोस्ती में एक दोस्त को दूसरे की माँ के बारे में उल्टा-सीधा कहने का हक मिल जाता है? वैश्वीकरण तथा उदारीकरण के चलते ये सब क्या आजकल मान्य होने लगा है? या उस फिल्म ने बच्चों को मॉडर्न होने का पाठ पढ़ाने का बीड़ा उठाया है? ऐसे कई उदहारण, सुन्दरता से कोसों दूर।

क्या 'पिपली लाइव' ने उस सुन्दरता को हासिल कर पाया है? इसमें भी वही बात, कुछ हद तक असंस्कृत, पर बोलने वालों से ऐसे लफ़्ज़ों की अपेक्षा की जा सकती है। यानी नेचरल डायलॅग। फिर सुन्दरता हासिल करने में अड़चन कहाँ? बात आकर अटक जाती है नज़रिए पर। किसानों का खुदकुशी करना कोई मामूली बात तो नहीं कि उस पर हास्य रस भरा नौटंकी या मसखरेबाजी कर लिया जाए। पूरे फिल्म में कहीं यह कहा नहीं गया कि आखिरकार यह किसान खुदकुशी क्यों करते हैं? मुझे नहीं लगता कहानी लिखने वाले को इसकी जानकारी है। एक जगह तो ऐसा कहा गया कि ॠण माताजी की इलाज के लिए लिया गया था और गिरवी रखी गई ज़मीन ऋण का चुकता न होने पर नीलाम होने वाली थी। और भी एक खेतिहर को बंज़र ज़मीन को कोड़ते हुए देखा गया, जो अपनी ज़मीन खो चूका था। मिटटी लेकर इंट बनाने वाले को बेचता था। उसने भी एक दिन खुदकुशी कर ली। पर क्यों? सच यह है: किसान मरते हैं इसलिए कि खेती में जो लागत बैठती है पैदाबार उतनी नहीं होती। इससे ऋण बढ़ता जाता है, यानी यह है ज़मीनी हकीकत। क्या 'पिपली लाइव' में इसकी भनक है? मसले के विस्तार की बात तो छोडिये। यहाँ स्वांग का विस्तार तो देखिये, कैसे दर्शकों को विष्ठा के रंग के बारे में भी सुनना पड़ता है।

मुझे लगा कि आवार्ड लेने के लिए कुछ आम तरकीबें होती हैं, जिन्हें यहाँ भी अपनाई गई। इसमें एक तो यह है कि फिल्म ऐसे बने जो आवार्ड देने वालों को यानी पाश्चात्य समीक्षाकारों को भाए। अगर ' स्लमडॉग मिलेनियर ' को आस्कर लेने हेतु विष्ठा का इस्तेमाल करना पड़ा, फिर 'पिपली लाइव' क्यों पीछे रहेगा भला? वह तो एक कदम आगे जाकर उसका रंग विश्लेषण करेगा और रंग से मनोवैज्ञानिक तरजुमा। वाह! ऐसा होता जाएगा तो आमिर खान को भी एक दिन 'वो' मिल जाएगा, जिसके लिए वे जी-जान से प्रयासरत हैं। 'लगान' जैसे सर्वोत्तम फिल्म की कद्र कर नहीं पाए तो कुछ भद्दी कहानियों को समझ कर तो आवार्ड दे दें। भगवान के लिए इस गरीब की झोली में कुछ दे दें।
A. N. Nanda




Thursday, October 07, 2010

Something Sweet to Recount

Recently I could catch some rudimentary tricks about how to tweak a manageable clip out of a CD. I have a video CD of some 700 MB that was recorded at the time of release of विरासत some one year ago, but it was only with the acquisition of technique that I could plan uploading this onto my blog. I'm not sure if the mass of data contained in this clip is amenable to downloading/playing, but then there has to be some beginning.

Here the eminent Hindi poet Shri Arun Kamal is sharing his impression about the book and its author. It was tremendously encouraging.

By A. N. Nanda



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Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Third Computer

I had never thought it that one year down the line 'विरासत' would continue to be the talking point. Readers still give me their feedback. The other day, I received a letter from the समकालीन भारतीय साहित्य, a bi-monthly journal of Sahity Academy that they have chosen my book for review. Fine, विरासत has acted according to its brief: it has to prove its worth without anybody canvassing for it. I'm posting another story out of it, a translated version of one that was liked by many. Let me see if it can retain its appeal in its English avatar.

Thirty-long years had passed in the meanwhile since the day Ramulujee took up a job in post office. It was only a matter of five more years and the time would pass just like that. Then he would call it a day and go home with his pension. Whatever was so far due to him in the name of promotion had already come to him. In case another chance came his way during these five years, he was sure he would not accept it. Promotions were at the root of all hassles-he had learnt it the hard way. They meant trauma; they would come accompanied by transfer and displacement. In the name of pay hike what one would get was only a hundred-odd rupees. And that was all. What else would it mean if not ruining a settled life?

Ramulujee was the postmaster of Diamond Park Post Office. The post office was undoubtedly a small unit compared to many that were located elsewhere in the town, but nevertheless it was special. It was located in a posh locality. Not many employees were posted there-besides the postmaster, the other two fellows in the unit were a postal assistant and a peon. The workload was quite substantial, so much so that no one ever hoped to get a moment's respite from the time he entered the office in the morning till the end of the working hours in the evening. Ramulujee was a sincere fellow and it was owing to his sincerity that he could develop close contacts with the important fellows in the locality. In this way the job brought Ramulujee the satisfaction he valued the most.

Wasn't this sense of satisfaction an indication of complacency? Clearly, a postmaster could not afford that. The world was fast changing and the postmaster should not have been so blithely unaware of this.

The entire work of the post office was to be computerised and hence the necessary hardware had since been supplied there a year ago. There were two people in the establishment including the postmaster who had something to do with computers whereas as many as three sets of them were actually received there. The peon was not supposed to operate the system, so where was the necessity of a third one? Common sense matched the curiosity and it was resolved just like that-maybe one spare system was supplied with a view to meet the contingency of a system going out of order all of sudden. Besides the systems, the other components of the hardware that Diamond Park Post Office received consisted of a UPS that would ensure availability of power all the while, a generator and a couple of printers. The computers needed tables specially designed for the purpose, ergonomic chairs and the counters were to be converted into modular cubicles made of glass and aluminium. The main computer which was called the server needed a separate room and that was also raised inside the main hall. In a way, the whole look and feel of the post office was refurbished.

People of the locality saw the change in the post office and got pleasantly surprised. Their astonishment working in them, they concluded that India was changing. 'If a post office such as the one at Diamond Park could get metamorphosed overnight, then everything is possible in India,' somebody said this with banter.

Despite supply of hardware and the peripherals and even after completion of the site preparation, the work of the post office did not shift to the computers as expected. Reason: the employees there badly needed the training to operate the contraptions. People monitoring this at the headquarters brought this fact to the special notice of the divisional superintendent and so he had to pay a surprise visit to Diamond Park Post Office. Finding the state of affairs there, the divisional head acted promptly. He arranged to send both the postmaster Ramulujee and his assistant Veerbhadra to the training centre. It was a programme for a week, but at the end of it Ramulujee could not understand a word of what was taught. Yes, he learnt a few jargons with a lot of efforts and used one of them, 'Please wait, I'm shutdowning the computer.' He came back to his post office at Diamond Park, not empty-handed but with a certificate of attendance...and with a heart filled with uncertainties of the future.

Veerbhadra, on the other hand, could grasp whatever was imparted to him. He was a young fellow, quite able to fathom those technical intricacies. In fact, before joining this job in the post office two years ago, he had acquired some skill in computer operation. Now he was out of touch, yet by attending this training he got back the old skill. On his return Veerbhadra showed his interest to work in computers but it was the postmaster Ramulujee who ignored him.

Time was at a premium. And a month passed just like that. Every week reminders used to reach the postmaster urging him to put the computers into operation. For how many more days could Ramulujee have ignored the instructions from the divisional head? Finally, one fine morning, the ultimatum came: Put the computers into operation right away, and if the work does not start on them within three days, the entire staff of Diamond Park Post Office would be shifted.

Yes, the threat was as clear as that!

'Transfer? Oh no, we deserved better. Veerbhadra Babu, do something...and do it quickly,' Ramulujee was almost at the point of pleading with his junior.

'Why not Masterjee, I'll put them into operation by tomorrow…latest by nine o' clock in the morning. You needn't worry too much. I was only waiting for your orders.' Veerbhadra was bubbling with confidence.

The postmaster took the words of Veerbhadra as an expression of his ego, nay superiority complex. A feeling of inferiority came over him instantly as he realised his present inadequacies. Really, technological changes do appear this way; the old gives way to the new and the ones known for their dexterity till yesterday are discarded as useless today...just like that. Now what else was open for Ramulujee to choose? He just tried to prepare himself to accept everything that his junior colleague would suggest. He just wished the emergency to pass him by.

Veerbhadra was happy. Tomorrow he would do something useful. He would exhibit his superiority, the proof of his indispensability. Now onwards, he would not have to fill in those lengthy forms; he would not be harassed by those incorrigible arithmetic conundrums. He would not be required to redo his works every time they went wrong. Everything would be done by computer, the wonder machine, the friend of the white-collar worker.

The next day Veerbhadra reached the post office long before the starting of the business hours. No sooner did he reach there than he commenced his work. Even he had no time to wait for the sweeper to complete the cleaning.

In fact the vendor that supplied the computers had already configured the local network. Even the UPS had been connected to the computers. The rest in the to-do list was to load the application software that was developed for the post office and to enter the basic data that would initialise the operation. That was all. Then the computers would run and the work of the post office could be done on them.

Ramulujee had carefully stored in his cupboard the CDs containing the software but when it was the time to produce them, he just drew blank. Strangely, all other things that accompanied the consignment like invoice and user manual were available at hand but not the CDs. Then Ramulujee tried to recall. And he tried hard, really hard. After a while he succeeded...and happily at that. As Archimedes suddenly screamed Eureka-Eureka when his famous scientific discovery serendipitously dawned on him, Ramulujee, likewise, screeched.

'Oh, I see, you're looking for GB. Then why didn't you tell me earlier that you're searching GB. I've not one, but two GBs, all of them lying in tact in my cupboard.'

Veerbhadra stifled his desire to burst into laughter and politely said, 'Masterjee, I'm not searching GB, rather CDs, the ones that contain the software in them.'

'Yeah, I'm telling you exactly that. A CD or a GB-isn't it the same stuff?' the postmaster shot a rhetorical question. He was not a fellow to concede.

Now Ramulujee brought the CD out of his cupboard. 'Take your blessed GB, Veerbhadra Babu, Oh yes, what were you calling these thingummies...CD, ok, ok, take your blessed CD.'

The computers just waited for Veerbhadra to load them with the software. The entire work was to take him some two hours, yet he had reached the post office very early in the morning. He was a little cautious and liked to work with some time-margin at his disposal. He calculated that by nine-thirty he would make the systems ready for work.

It was nine-thirty when the postmaster came ready. He had taken his bath and dressed properly for the occasion. He had a cocoanut in his hand too.

'Masterjee, now the computers are ready. You can work on them,' Veerbhadra was beaming with self-satisfaction.

'Wait a minute, Veerbhadra Babu. Allow me to worship it...let's make it as auspicious as possible. I'm going to break this cocoanut,' the postmaster said. Like a patriarch he was for preserving the tradition of the house. It was never an auspicious way to begin any work without invoking Lord Ganapati. No computerisation in post office could be thought of without the blessings of Ganapati.

Then he went near door and banged the cocoanut there. It cracked and water began to drip. Ramulujee took it and poured on the keyboard and the delicate instrument instantly went out of order. Veerbhadra gawped at the postmaster helplessly. He was at his wit's end.

What was there for Veerbhadra to do now? A couple of minutes gone, he managed to recover from his uneasiness and said, 'there's nothing to worry, Masterjee. I'm bringing the keyboard of the third computer and attaching it here. Then your machine will be once again ready for work. Just give me two minutes....'
A. N. Nanda



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